Rottnest – An expensive but stunning beach island holiday.

An hour by ferry or boat from Perth is the much loved island of Rottnest. “Rotto” is a favourite with locals for a relaxed beach holiday to be enjoyed with plenty of time barefoot in the white sands. There are plenty of gorgeous bays and beaches with crystal clear waters of aqua blue. The available accommodation reflect this relaxed vibe and at dusk there are plenty of the local marsupial, the quokka wandering around, grazing for food.

View from an Ocean View Chalet at Thomson’s Bay – this was a well equipped, relaxing cabin albeit a little pricey.

After experiencing Rottnest a number of different ways, the best way, is to find a friend with a boat who is familiar with the island! Even better if your friend knows how to get hold of the plentiful local crayfish (lobster) in the waters around Rottnest!

Salmon Bay Rottnest
Crayfish cooked in Seawater

In a boat, we could visit the beautiful Parker Point for a swim in these clear aqua (albeit cold) waters. A spot this beautiful is understandably popular. Note how many other boats we had to weave through to get to a clear spot to anchor!

Parker Point, Rotto

To get around the island, the best way is by bicycle. As there are no private cars on the island, cycling is very safe. Pinky Beach is a short ride from the town settlement. At Pinky Beach, there is a fancy beach resort with many glamping tents set up. This looks like a lovely fun stay except for the eye-watering price tag! It costs between $300 to $800AUD per night to stay in these glamping tents! At these prices, this is out of reach of many who would like to escape the rat race for a few restful days by the beach!

Pinky Beach, Rottnest
Bathurst Lighthouse, Rottnest
Geordie Bay, Rottnest

A little bit further westwards from Geordie Bay is the Little Parakeet Bay. On the day we visited it was overcast and crowded. (Crowded by Australia’s standard but we do have the extreme privilege of having vast amounts of stunning coastlines and much of it quite uncrowded.) The water on this day at Little Parakeet Bay was getting quite choppy and there were potentially dangerous rocks hiding underwater.

Little Parakeet Bay, Rottnest

Due to the restrictions to interstate and overseas travel, Rottnest is currently extremely busy. The local bakery and pub are crowded and available accommodation is scarce. Despite this, Rottnest remains a place of stunning natural beauty. Unfortunately, the biggest downside is the price. Accounting for the cost of accommodation, ferry, bike hire and food, it’s not an affordable place for a middle income family to have a holiday.

The Pinnacles – a surreal, alien landscape!

Only 2 hours north of Perth is an area so arresting and bizarre that it feels like another planet. The ground is an unnaturally bright yellow hue, reminiscent of The Simpsons. There are barely any plants and there are these strange protruding limestone structures. It’s so different to any of the surrounding landscape, so striking and totally surreal. The Pinnacles at Nambung National Park is a remarkable and unusual place. Nature and evolution is truly prodigious in it’s diversity!

The Pinnacles – Nambung National Park
The Pinnacles – Nambung National Park
The Pinnacles – Nambung National Park
The Pinnacles – Nambung National Park

Geraldton – an underrated gem

Geraldton has a bit of a bad reputation but during a recent visit, we found that this city of about 38,000 people has an excellent museum, pretty waterfront areas and a busy port. It’s only 4.5 hours north of Perth and would make for an enjoyable few days. The port services the local mining, fishing, wheat and sheep industries.

Port of Geraldton
Point Moore Lighthouse, Geraldton

No trip to Geraldton is complete without a visit to the Museum of Geraldton. This is an excellent museum housed in an architectural building by the water. It’s a perfect rainy day activity.

Museum of Geraldton

Don’t miss out on this cool sculpture on the waterfront in Geraldton. It’s like a giant marble filled with water. This sculpture would be interesting to photograph at various times of the day and with various weathers. It was a moody, drizzly, overcast day when we were here.

Horizon by Lucy Humphrey
Geraldton

Kalbarri – super busy for a reason!

Kalbarri is a great little beach town with areas of magnificent geological beauty close by. As it is only 6 hours north of Perth, it’s a favourite for a getaway! We found that to be the case recently when there was absolutely no accommodation available in Kalbarri during the school holiday period. The accommodation during the school holidays was booked out months in advance as the pandemic has restricted interstate and overseas travel and a recent severe storm had damaged a large number of the hotel/motel type accommodation.

When visiting Kalbarri, exploring the Kalbarri National Park is essential. The Kalbarri Skywalk is an amazing piece of cantilevered infrastructure and the views are spectacular.

Kalbarri Skywalk
Kalbarri Skywalk View
Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park
Red Bluff Lookout, Kalbarri
Wildflowers near Kalbarri

In my opinion, the highlight of Kalbarri is this rock formation called Nature’s Window. It’s a popular spot for a photo as it does make for a stunning shot with the layered sandstone and the backdrop of the rugged Murchison River. It’s quite busy and there could be a small wait as visitors take turns to get their photo in this iconic location.

Nature’s Window, Kalbarri
Kalbarri National Park

Monkey Mia – an overrated tourist attraction

Monkey Mia is a place that comes up often in conversation by Perth peeps as a fabulous place to visit. It’s all about the dolphin experience where dolphins come very close to the shore to be fed. We found it over-commercialised and overrated. The area around the beach is overly built up and commercialised. No timing is advertised for the feeding, partly to avoid the dolphins getting too accustomed to being fed. This is also a convenient excuse to get the enthusiastic public to pay entry fees to the area at 7:45am and keep them waiting till 10am before the first feeding. Plenty of time to get hungry and bored enough to spend money on breakfast, coffees and souvenirs!

The feeding of the dolphins was OK with a large crowd being told repeatedly by the ranger to get out off the water. Perhaps, the whole experience was tarnished by the learning of a new fact! Male dolphins mate with female dolphins by forming a group of male dolphins and separating an individual female dolphin. They then use violence and coercion to gang rape her. It’s not right to apply human values to animals when there are legitimate evolutionary explanations to these behaviors. Nevertheless, it does not match with the dolphin’s image of being a gentle, amazing and intelligent creature. (For those taking children to the Monkey Mia dolphin experience, fear not, the ranger is not this explicit in the explanation of mating! The ranger is much more diplomatic and careful in her explanation to cater for young ears and minds!)

The main town near Monkey Mia is Denham. This is a very pretty beach town and worth a stop.

Sculpture Denham Foreshore

About 45km south east of Denham is Shell Beach. This is a beach made up of shells. Amazingly, the shells comes from a single type of cockle, the Fragum cockle which has evolved to survive in these hypersaline conditions! Amazing!

Shell Beach
Shell Beach